Katie Cromie is Deputy Principal and Head of Wellbeing at St Dominic’s Primary School in Broadmeadows, Victoria. She sings the praises of the Seasons for Growth program for children and is offering it to the students, many of whom have seen and experienced things that are often “unspeakable”. 

St Dominic’s caters for children from many backgrounds, but has a particular emphasis on those who are refugees, with students currently representing 26 different nationalities. Ninety four percent have English as an additional language, with many of those currently attending having come from Syria or Iraq. Creating a safe space for all of St Dominic’s students is a priority of the school. 

So why did a trauma informed school that runs a number of intervention programs choose Seasons for Growth? For Katie, this program is invaluable for children impacted by significant loss and change, as it helps investigate “the why, not the what”. Seasons for Growth allows the children to recognise that they are not defined by what has happened to them, they are not alone, others have had similar experiences, and they have grown through these experiences. 

Whilst initially not being aware of how much change they had had in their young lives, the exercises in the program, in particular the timeline of their lives, allowed the children to recognise how much had happened and see that these changes have had significant impact on them. 

"Seasons for Growth is a really beneficial springboard for conversation, and gives children permission to go to places where very few of the kids have gone before, due to shame, fear of upsetting others, or simply because it’s just too hard to talk about. Whilst it is heartbreaking to hear this, it is also testament to the Seasons for Growth program, which allows a uniquely safe place for them to reflect, learn and grow in their own journey of healing."  Katie Cromie, St Dominics Deputy Principal 

One of the children, a young girl from a refugee background, had been separated from her family during their escape from persecution. She had been struggling as she didn’t have anyone to talk to about her awful experiences when she was by herself in that situation. The Seasons for Growth program gave her a space where she could reflect on her memories and what it was like for her. Importantly, this gave Katie an opportunity, with the young girl’s permission, to bring the family along for a discussion about what was going on for her and then make referrals for additional support. The young girl is now able to begin to process and even reframe some of what she experienced. 

The school has focussed on Year 5 and 6 children who have younger siblings. They see the program as a key element for transition to High School, particularly for those who have lived through so much change and transition in their young lives. Katie feels that the program will give the students coping mechanisms and capacity to identify their feelings and find safe ways to express them. She hopes that their younger siblings will join the program next year so that families will have greater exposure to Seasons for Growth approaches to understanding change, loss and grief, opening up further conversations in the home.